Armenian president hails ties with Iran

October 31, 2021 - 21:36

TEHRAN — Emphasizing that his country's relations with Iran as a neighbor have always been good, the Armenian president has said what happened during the war in southern Armenia in 2020 was directly related to Iran.

"Iran is our neighbor. What happened during the war in southern Armenia is directly related to Iran. This section is on the border with Iran, it would be surprising if Iran did not say anything about it in general," Armen Sarkissian told Russia's RBK television, ISNA reported on Saturday.

The Republic of Azerbaijan and Armenia fought over the disputed region of Nagorno-Karabakh and the surrounding territories. Fighting began on September 27, 2020, and lasted for more than 40 days. 

Regarding the reasons behind Armenia's good relations with Iran in comparison to a year ago, Sarkissian noted: "First of all, I do not agree with you. Iran-Armenia relations have always been good. Unlike Turkey, the Iranian government has provided financial support for the preservation of Armenian cultural and religious centers."

On the view that relations have become closer after the war, the Armenian president answered, "Iran is our neighbor. What happened during the war in southern Armenia is directly related to Iran. This section is on the border with Iran, it would be surprising if Iran did not say anything about it in general."

With regard to Iran's concerns in the face of Turkey's measures, Sarkissian highlighted that Iran had the right to be worried about many things, so it was their right to express their views and the neighbors must listen to it.

“Iran-Armenia relations have always been good.”

"God willing, other players in the region will hear the same views. The point is that after the war, many began to say that during the war it was very difficult to get international support from various organizations and governments that actively supported the idea of ending the war."

Of course, there were countries that were very friendly, like France, which was worried about the war, the Armenian president stated. 

But, he said, other European countries were not active and “now after the war, everyone has started talking actively.”

Though Iran said the territorial integrity of Azerbaijan should be respected by Armenia, the Baku government has adopted an unfriendly approach toward Iran and made accusations against Iran and Yerevan. 

Contrary to the Caspian Sea legal regime, Azerbaijan also invited Turkey and Pakistan for a joint maneuver in the sea.
Azeri President Ilham Aliyev went too far in his anti-Iran rhetoric. On October 15, he claimed that Iran and Armenia have been using the Nagarno-Karabakh territory for years to smuggle drugs to Europe."

“After restoring its 130-kilometer border with Iran, which was under Armenian control for 30 years, Azerbaijan stopped the illegal trafficking of narcotics from Iran to Armenia and on to Europe through Azerbaijan’s Jebrail district,” Aliyev claimed during a virtual summit of the former Soviet republics.

At the same virtual meeting, Armenian Prime Minister Nicole Pashinyan rejected the allegations. “I want to point out that we have been very closely cooperating with Iran’s law-enforcement bodies and very productively fighting against drug trafficking,” said Pashinian.

Shortly after Aliyev's remarks, the Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh said the allegations by the Azeri president are “astonishing”.

The Armenian prosecutor's office has issued a statement on the joint Iranian-Armenian fight against drug trafficking, saying the allegations by Aliyev were "baseless".

The prosecutor’s office stated that in 2020, thirteen criminal cases were filed against drug trafficking on the Iranian-Armenian border and 14 people were charged. The statement also said that in the first nine months of 2021, 12 cases were investigated and 24 people were charged.

At the end of the statement, the prosecutor's office said: "All this information confirms that the accusations made by the President of Azerbaijan, Ilham Aliyev, have nothing to do with reality and are fabricated. These allegations, which lack real data and are intended to discredit Iran and Armenia, have been doomed to failure from the outset. These accusations are to hide the fact that Azerbaijan itself is a transit country for drug trafficking."

On October 19, the Iranian director of headquarters for the fight against narcotics, Eskandar Momeni, urged Azerbaijani officials to respect the public opinion and to see the position of Iran in the fight against narcotics trafficking.

“Despite the cruel sanctions, our efforts to combat drug trafficking have intensified and we call on other countries to cooperate in this regard,” he emphasized.

Aliyev failed to produce any proof of his allegations that Iran is helping Armenia to smuggle drugs to Europe. 

Iran is the leading country in the fight against narcotics worldwide. 

According to the UN Office, the Islamic Republic's continuous efforts to combat narcotics trafficking came up with the seizure of more than 90 percent of opium, 70 percent of morphine, and 20 percent of world heroin.

Despite the conditions caused by the coronavirus outbreak and the imposition of harsh sanctions against the country, with the efforts of anti-narcotics police in 2020, drug detection increased by 41 percent.

Since the 1979 Islamic Revolution, about 3,800 Iranian security forces have been martyred and about 12,000 wounded or disabled in the fight against drug trafficking.

The UNODC has praised Iran’s efforts to fight against narcotics trafficking on the occasion of International Day Against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking.

The organization also officially announced that the world’s first place in the discovery of opium, heroin, and morphine belongs to Iran.

According to UNODC, Iran remains one of the major transit routes for drug trafficking from Afghanistan to European countries and has had a leading role at the global level in drug-control campaigns.

UNODC World Drug Report 2020 estimates that in 2018, 91 percent of world opium, 48 percent of the world morphine, and 26 percent of the world heroin were seized by Iran.

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